Love Venice? Here are 10 more canal cities that deserve a place on your travel bucket list.
The Grand Canal of Venice needs no introduction.
People flock from around the world to cruise the Italian waterway and explore the picturesque backstreets that form a maze nearby. But this Italian city isn’t the only place in the world with picturesque canals, breathtaking architecture and quiet cafes.
Here are 10 alternative places like Venice in all corners of the world that are equally as beautiful and well worth a visit.
1. Amsterdam, Netherlands
Fondly known as the "Venice of the North", the capital of Netherlands is one of the most unique destinations on earth, with its picturesque canals, 17th-century buildings and rich cultural scene. Cycling is a way of life here and, quite frankly, is the best way to explore the city’s many charming neighbourhoods, museums and art exhibitions.
- Top five must see and do: Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, canal cruise, Anne Frank House, try raw herring from herring carts
- Best canal tour: Blue Boat Sightseeing Canal Cruise. Cruise through the Dutch capital with comfortable seats on the famous grachts. Personal headsets are provided with an engaging narrative in various languages.
2. Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is a city of contrasts; while the city is loud and fast-paced, its network of canals and serene shrines offer a peaceful getaway. A sprawling metropolis, it’s famed for delicious street food, ornate temples, and more shopping options than you can explore in a lifetime. The food is bold, the locals are friendly and the shopping is dirt cheap - it’s no wonder Bangkok is must-see.
- Top five must see and do: Grand Palace, cruise the Chao Phraya River, floating markets, Chatuchak Weekend Market, shop at the many malls
- Best canal tour: Half Day Bangkok Canals Tour. Be taken back in time as you explore the canals of Bangkok and see the capital from a different perspective.
3. Suzhou, China
The city of Suzhou is said to be “heaven on Earth”. And it’s not hard to see why, with its beautiful ancient towns, landscaped gardens and historical canals. In the past, the “Venice of the East” was synonymous with high culture and elegance and still is today. Explore the water towns, teahouses and make a trip to one of the 60 classical gardens.
- Top five must see and do: Grand Canal, Silk Museum, Lingering Garden, Tiger Hill, watch a traditional opera show.
- Best canal tour: Suzhou and Zhouzhuang Water Village Day Trip from Shanghai. Tour two traditional provincial towns with an English speaking guide and dine on authentic Chinese cuisine.
4. Bruges, Belgium
Be mesmerised by Bruges’ dreamy canals, cobblestoned streets and medieval buildings. The town has the setting right out of a fairytale: soaring bell towers and horse-drawn carriages. Explore the city on foot to best take in the architecture. When you tire, make your way to the picturesque courtyard and watch the world go by.
- Top five must see and do: Belfry & Halle, Markt, The Basilica of Holy Blood, canal boat tour, breweries
- Best canal tour: Bruges Day Trip. Get insider tips on the hidden spots in Bruges with lots of free time to do your own exploring.
5. St Petersburg, Russia
This Russian port city is the country’s cultural centre. From the masterpieces in the world-famous Hermitage to watching classical ballet, St Petersburg is an artistic powerhouse. As you cruise down the canals or crossing the many bridges over them throughout the city, the sights and sounds of this metropolis never fail to amaze.
- Top five must see and do: The Hermitage, Grand Maket Rossiya, Peter and Paul Cathedral, Palace Square, buy hand-painted eggs at the craft markets
- Best canal tour: St Petersburg Boat Tour. A two-hour sightseeing tour through some of the most historical parts of the city with English speaking local tour guide.
6. Stockholm, Sweden
Sweden is home to much more than meatballs and do-it-yourself furniture. Its capital, Stockholm, spreads out over 14 islands, and offers grand buildings, palaces and museums proudly telling its 700-year-old history. Hit up the many fine cafes and get a taste of Swedish high fashion in the many designer boutiques. This city is as easy to explore as it is to fall in love with.
- Top five must see and do: Gamla Stan, visit art museums, picnic on the island of Djurgarden, party on the sea, sit back and have a coffee
- Best canal tour: Stockholm Bridges Cruise. Tour the picturesque Stockholm waterways and pass by all the bridges that connect the central islands.
7. Ganvie, Benin
The city of Ganvie is the largest lake city in Africa. With a population of about 20,000 living on houses built on stilts, this unique village is known as the “Venice of Africa”. Popular with tourists, Ganvie is only accessible by boat, far from chaotic traffic and crowded markets. The village is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Top three must see and do: Visit the floating market, See how the locals live their everyday life, Tour the village via its network of canals
8. Annecy, France
The beautiful alpine town of Annecy has romance written all over its castles, cathedrals, and pastel coloured houses. Get away from it all and take in the surroundings - mountain-fringed lakes and winding canals - as you hang out on pavement cafes. This is one of the most beautiful places in Europe for architecture, history and culture.
- Top five must see and do: Cycle or paddle across Lake Annecy, cross the Lovers’ Bridge, visit Palais de l’Isle, have a picnic, shop for fresh food at the markets
- Best canal tour: Annecy Half-Day Tour. Visit Annecy’s main attractions and world famous lake, with ample free time to explore on your own.
9. Alleppey, India
Explore the scenic backwaters of Kerala in a houseboat for a relaxing and tranquil experience. The large network of canals is a sanctuary for birds and wildlife. Tourists flock to Alleppey for a sip of the delicious rice wine, palm-fringed waterways and popular annual snake boat race.
- Top five must see and do: Snake boat races, stay in a houseboat, Alleppey Beach, driftwood museum, visit the village of Karumadi.
- Best canal tour: Classic South India tour. Sleep in a boathouse and discover the beauty of the backwaters of Alleppey.
10. Tigre, Argentina
Located 28km north of Buenos Aires, Tigre is a unique suburb within a watery world of islands. A boat ride into the delta makes for a great getaway from the hustle of the city. The port is where you will find some of the best open markets in the world, selling everything from furniture to delicious fruits.
- Top five must see and do: Open markets, water sports, Parque de la Costa, Puerto de Frutos, Argentinian barbecue
- Best canal tour: Tigre Delta Day Tour. Easy half-day or full-day tour to see the waterfront sights and local way of life.